Ukraine Today – And Beyond: Sunday’s With George Thatcher, Raiderland’s Resident Bad-Ass Philosopher.

Ukraine:  Today and Beyond

The lack of forward momentum in the Ukraine’s current spring-summer offensive is troubling, but understandable.  Over a five hundred mile battle front, the Russians have installed “dragons’ teeth” anti-tank emplacements, with thickly-sown minefields front and rear.  Needless to say, the going is rough, and made even more treacherous by Russians’ constantly patrolling of the area with armed drones  and snipers, which further impedes any efforts to remove mines and blow up tank traps.  So the Ukrainian progress is a question of probing along the front for weak areas to exploit,  It’s all so tedious and time-consuming.

This is the kind of war at which the Russians excel.  It is brutal, not flashy, and they incur heavy casualties in the process.  Intelligence reports indicate that they have at least eighty percent of their regular army committed to what they still call a “special military operation.”  They have the advantage of air superiority, but not supremacy.   This is attributable to the Ukrainians’ excellent air defense and electronic counter measures, provided both by the U.S. and other Europeans NATO allies.  Briefly, the air war in Ukraine is nearly a standoff.

On the same topic, we have promised Ukraine a squadron of F-16 fighters, which have proven their worth in a number of combat operations.  But who can live on promises?  Training of aircrews, plus the logistics of moving the necessary equipment into a combat zone, are challenges that haven’t been met as of yet.  A year ago, Ukraine was offered a squadron of Polish MiG-29 aircraft, which was the top-line fighter of the Russians for many years. It is still a useful weapon system, but the U.S. never did figure out how to effect this transfer without provoking Russia into escalating the war to our NATO allies.  Understandably, NATO didn’t like the idea either.

As with nuclear threats from Russia, we sadly tucked our tails between our legs and never called them out.  We have also agreed to send Bradley fighting  vehicles to the Ukrainians.  They estimate that up to 400 such tanks, along with German Leopard tanks, are estimated to be needed to even the ground war playing field, but so far we have sent only thirty, plus an unknown number of the Leopards.  It is borderline miraculous that Ukraine has been able to fight the Russians to a near-standstill, even gaining back some of the previously lost territories.  If Ukraine has any advantage, it lies in the spirit of their fighting forces, who are determined to defend their homeland, and have done an admirable job of it,

Keeping a steady stream of arms flowing to Ukraine is a must, if any long-term success is to be realized.  And this is where the future becomes murky.  There is a growing feeling among some Americans that we need to disentangle ourselves from this situation, and leave Ukraine to its own devices.  They argue that the NATO allies are not pulling their weight, while avoiding the looming specter of the Russians’ land-grab. They further state that we have higher priorities for our country’s funds than to keep propping up former Soviet Republics,

There were similar sentiments before World War II, when isolationists claimed that the European conflict was “not our war, and we were best advised to remain neutral.”  We were close to being convinced of this line of reasoning, when suddenly the Japanese attacked our forces at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1l41.  So all right,  Since the 1940s we have engaged in some ill-advised military adventures. and this time we’re fighting a “proxy war,” in which our  participation has been passive, but in which we are deeply involved in the logistics of the situation.

So we’re being urged to put away the checkbook and let Ukraine depend on Western Europe to keep them a viable nation.  That is exactly what the Russians would like to see.  Such a signal from us would give them the green light to go all in.  Ukraine, with its relatively modest population, would be swallowed up within months, leaving Russia with Black Sea ports and a commanding strategic position.  They would then be able to intimidate the rest of Europe, as well as North Africa, into making favorable deals everywhere.

And of course, they would soon turn their objectives toward the Baltic Countries, as well as all of its former Soviet Republics.   In a matter of a few years, Russia would again be the supreme power to be reckoned with in Europe.  We haven’t even mentioned their good allies, the Chinese,  Those two powers, linked together, would form an economic-military alliances which would put them in a dominating position around the world.

I hope the foregoing pages make enough sense to us that we will continue, even increase, our support to Ukraine.  If we can thereby avoid a much larger world conflagration, then my work here is done.  There are yet other countries around the world who are not our friends, and the way to keep them all at bay is to strengthen our ties with the NATO countries, and keep this alliance so strong that it will discourage all who have autocratic intentions.

George Thatcher

August 2023

George is an American Bad Ass. He grew up in Jersey, flew B-52s in Vietnam, taught English, Spanish and other languages to children around the world, makes his own salsa, has been known to enjoy a beer or two and has called Lubbock home for a few years, just to entertain the locals. Welcome to Raiderland, Major. We are going to feature some of his writings going forward. Some new, some old. Some rhyme, some don’t. When it comes to George, there’s no box. So… enjoy our friend and enjoy his writings! – Hyatt